A Model for Modernism

At a dinner party in 1945, famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was approached with an offer.

Prominent Chicago nephrologist Dr. Edith Farnsworth wanted Mies to create a weekend getaway along the Fox River in Plano, Illinois. The offer was for Mies to design the house as if it were for himself.

The result was the culmination of the unique take on modernist architecture for which Mies became an icon. With the launch of a new 3Doodler Create themed kit for the Farnsworth House, we take a look at the inspiration and architectural movement behind this stunning example of modernism.

A Higher Unity

While many modernist architects believed architecture should be used to socially engineer human behavior and guide occupants to higher ideals, Mies used his buildings differently.

Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

His architecture still represented his ideals and aspirations, but instead of constructing in a way to carefully engineer a result, Mies instead focused on freedom of movement and use. With a minimal framework and expressed structural columns, his buildings offered and open space in which inhabitants could express their own spirit—something he saw as crucial to elevating the harmony between architecture and humanity.

"In its simplest form architecture is rooted in entirely functional considerations, but it can reach up through all degrees of value to the highest sphere of spiritual existence into the realm of pure art."-Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Share

Mies often reflects the industrial culture he saw as growing in the United States within his own architectural aesthetic, and uses this to offer occupants a flexible and unobstructed space.

His ultimate purpose was to join together natural elements with culture and construction. “We should attempt to bring nature, houses, and the human being to a higher unity,” Mies once said, and he reflected this ideal through designs featuring glass walls and few solid exterior walls.

Part of a Larger Whole

Constructed in a pastoral setting, the Farnsworth House is a clear culmination of the modernist ideals Mies sought to bring together in his designs.

"If you view nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it gains a more profound significance than if viewed from the outside. That way more is said about nature—it becomes part of a larger whole."-Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Share

The singular geometric form of the house is simple in the extreme, constructed of steel and glass with a minimal form. The one-room rectangular structure sits parallel to the Fox River, with a perpendicular cross axis directly facing the river and nature.

Elevated 5 feet and 3 inches above the ground, and with floor-to-ceiling glass as the outer walls, the Farnsworth House appears to be floating within the natural landscape around it.

The glass walls encircle an open floor plan with a core wooden block containing the toilet and kitchen—a wooden room nesting inside the larger glass rectangle. Each area of the living space—areas for sleeping, eating, sitting, and cooking—is suggested by the arrangement, but ultimately the inhabitant is free to decide the use of space as they desire.

An Icon of Modernism

To honor this National Historic Landmark and icon of modernist architecture, 3Doodler is pleased to present a unique Farnsworth House theme kit for 3Doodler Create.

The 3Doodler Farnsworth House Kit

In collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Licensed Project Kit includes detailed stencils created from the original Farnsworth floor plans, so anyone can create this modernist masterpiece in miniature scale. The kit also includes a visual step-by-step guide and four packs of ABS plastic to replicate the original structure. Learn more about the the making of this kit here.

The Farnsworth House Kit will be available alongside Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater Kit. Sign up for notifications on the release of these new kits:

Falling for Frank Lloyd Wright

The father of organic architecture turns 150 years old in June. The impact of interior designer, architect, writer, and educator, Frank Lloyd Wright can still be seen today.

Having designed over 1,000 structures in his lifetime, the work of Frank Lloyd Wright has made a lasting impact on architecture and design. In celebration of his 150th birthday, we are pleased to present a new 3Doodler Create Project Kit for Wright’s signature example of organic architecture, Fallingwater.

Celebrating 150 Years

With 532 completed structures over the span of a 70-year career, Frank Lloyd Wright has become an icon of American architecture. Twelve of his buildings are listed amongst Architectural Record’s hundred most important buildings of the century.

"We are all here to develop a life more beautiful, more concordant, more fully expressive of our own sense of pride and joy than ever before in the world."-Frank Lloyd Wright Share

Wright firmly believed that architecture was “the mother of all the arts,” and approached each design with this intensity of conviction. His aim to was to reflect the landscape, people, culture, and feel of America within his own designs and architecture.

With dramatic new shapes and designs, Wright developed what he called “organic architecture”, representing what he saw as the harmonious connection of the citizens of the United States with both each other, and to the land they call home. As such, his homes center around shared spaces such as the dining table, music rooms, and terraces to encourage a sense of community and closeness to both family and nature.

Fallingwater

None of Wright’s structures reflects the harmony between architecture and nature better than Fallingwater.

"The making of a good building, the harmonious building, one adapted to its purposes and to life, [is] a blessing to life and a gracious element added to life, is a great moral performance."-Frank Lloyd Wright Share

Constructed between 1936 and 1939, the residence was designed for the Kaufmann family in southwest Pennsylvania. Stretching over a 30-foot waterfall, the house is a shining example of Wright’s commitment to a unique architectural design that integrates family life with natural surroundings.

While the Kaufmanns had requested a house with a view of the waterfall, Wright wanted them to instead live with the water itself, and to make the falls an integral part of their everyday life. His organic design was detailed down to the colors, with only two distinct colors used in the final building, both tied closely to the materials used—the light ochre of the concrete, and Wright’s own signature Cherokee red on the steel.

Since Fallingwater first opened its doors to the public in 1964, over 4.5 million visitors have come to see Wright’s architectural masterpiece first-hand.

Recreating a Piece of History

To honor this National Historic Landmark and icon of organic architecture, 3Doodler is pleased to present a unique Fallingwater theme kit for 3Doodler Create.

In collaboration with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the Licensed Project Kit includes detailed stencils created from the original Fallingwater floor plans, so anyone can create Wright’s masterpiece in miniature scale. The kit also includes a visual step-by-step guide and four packs of ABS plastic to replicate the exact colors of the original structure. Learn more about the the making of this kit here.

Celebrate Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th Birthday by recreating one of the most powerful pieces of American architecture. Sign up for notifications on the release of this new kit at the3Doodler.com.

A Model Town from a Model Classroom

We often discuss the classroom applications for 3Doodler in STEM subjects, or as a way for students to learn about emerging technologies. But the educational benefits of 3Doodler aren’t just restricted to math and science, as English teacher Eva Reilly shows.

Reilly challenged her high school English class to make a model of their home town – Phillips, Wisconsin – as a way to inspire proper research and learn how to find reliable and trustworthy sources.

The class constructed their eight-foot model of the downtown street as part of their non-fiction unit in their English curriculum. And as with any non-fiction project, the first step is research.

“They read and wrote reviews of articles, memoirs, letters from books, newspapers, periodicals, and the internet about Phillips,” says Reilly.

The students took note of notable historical events that had affected the town, and shaped how it looked – like the Phillips Fire of 1894.

This fire swept through the entire downtown area the students were recreating, levelling many of the original structures. In the rebuilding efforts, the major buildings were required to be made from brick as a fire-safety measure.

"History is not just about events of way back in the day; it is the making of our past, present, and future" Share

Knowing the history and events which resulted in how the town currently looks gave new meaning to the construction of the model. “After learning about the history of Phillips and its development, students picked business buildings downtown to reconstruct on a scale model,” Reilly says. “They didn’t realize how difficult the project would be at first.”

Students visited the buildings in person, taking photos to use in the construction of their model to make sure they could be as accurate as possible. They also talked to residents with first-hand knowledge of the buildings’ histories and how they had been renovated throughout the years, all while keeping notes in fieldwork journals to chronicle the project.

To create the models, Reilly introduced some cross-subject integration by having the student figure out the correct dimensions for each building using algebra and geometry. “They learned we need math in everything we do, not just in the classroom,” Reilly says. “Sometimes, quite frankly, they were confused as to whether they were in math, science, history, or English class, but the process sure kept them engaged!”

Using 3Doodler pens, the students got to work constructing their model town. They needed to refer to their notes, photos, and research to make the buildings accurate for a realistic model. “The students learned that English is not just reading about fiction or nonfiction material, but it is also a bit of a history lesson,” Reilly says. “History is not just about events of way back in the day; it is the making of our past, present, and future.”

"As teachers, we learn that hands-on projects help students apply what they learn in school to the world around us" Share

Reilly is continuing the project again with future classes. The model – which is currently on display at the Phillips Public Library – will continue to grow as students each year research a different area of the town.

“As teachers, we learn that hands-on projects help students apply what they learn in school to the world around us – predictable and unpredictable,” explains Reilly. “Students learn that, in the end, everything we learn in school comes together – English, history, math, science, and technology.”

Looking for more ways to bring 3Doodler into your classroom?
Check out our dedicated EDU section for classroom tips, lesson plans, and exclusive EDU bundles for educators.

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